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Is Bob Dylan the Sentencing Law and Policy of Music?

So reports Alex Long's [Insert Song Lyrics Here]: The Uses and Misuses of Popular Music Lyrics in Legal Writing. OK, the Sentencing Law and Policy connection is my own, but SL&P is by a huge margin the most-cited blog in court opinions, and by a smaller margin the most-cited in law review articles. (The 3L Epiphany data I cite is limited to citations of law blogs, but I'm assuming that non-law blogs are cited rather more rarely in such legal sources.) Likewise for Bob Dylan:

ArtistNumber of Citations in Legal JournalsNumber of Citations in Judicial OpinionsTotal
1. Bob Dylan16026186
2. The Beatles71374
3. Bruce Springsteen64569
4. Paul Simon51859
5. Woody Guthrie42143
6. Rolling Stones35439
7. Grateful Dead30232
8. Simon & Garfunkel26430
9. Joni Mitchell27128
10. R.E.M.27027

Other artists narrowly missing the cut include Pink Floyd (26), Billy Joel (21), and Johnny Cash (21). The most notable absence, at least in terms of record sales and cultural significance, would be one Mr. Elvis Aron Presley.

Special bonus implication -- we're the Beatles of law blogging, at least when it comes to court opinions and law review articles.

Steve Lubet (mail):
what is the time frame? it's hard to believe that the beatles have only been cited 3 times in judicial opinions. perhaps their lyrics are so well known that they are quoted without attribution, and hence don't show up in artist searches? or am i missing something else?
9.18.2006 3:39pm
Ex parte McCardle:
Does this mean that the most citations are actually to Henry Timrod?

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/14/arts/music/14dyla.html
9.18.2006 3:48pm
Caliban Darklock:
It seems unfair to count Paul Simon separately from Simon and Garfunkel, and if you combine the results you end up with Paul Simon coming in second, eclipsing the Beatles but still way behind Dylan.

I would go so far as to say we should also count Art Garfunkel's solo career with Simon and Garfunkel, since the general public is largely unaware that Art Garfunkel even had a solo career and it will therefore make absolutely no difference in the results.

Basically, I like Simon and Garfunkel better than the Beatles, so I want their rank to be higher. (Not that I don't like the Beatles, I just think Paul Simon was a much better musician and singer.)
9.18.2006 4:11pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Shouldn't the Beatles get some kind of honorable mention for generating more lawsuits than any other artist? They must certainly hold that honor from all the Apple litigation to the My Sweet Lord/He's So Fine copyright suit. (But then of course I have forgotten Michael Jackson)
9.18.2006 4:38pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Thanks for bringing my attention to one of the most amusing Law Review articles I've read in some time (OK, not a high bar to get over, but still...)
9.18.2006 4:41pm
Alan P (mail):
But still see the recent quote of Ludicris from US v. Murphy (7th Cir. 5/4/2005


The trial transcript quotes Ms. Hayden as saying Murphy called her a snitch bitch "hoe." A "hoe," of course, is a tool used for weeding and gardening. We think the court reporter, unfamiliar with rap music (perhaps thankfully so), misunderstood Hayden's response. We have taken the liberty of changing "hoe" to "ho," a staple of rap music vernacular as, for example, when Ludacris raps "You doin' ho activities with ho tendencies
9.18.2006 4:57pm
magoo (mail):
That's a shame about Elvis. Someone email Judge K and ask him to cite Jailhouse Rock, where appropriate. Didn't Scalia cite Hound Dog in the Paula Jones case?
9.18.2006 5:31pm
M.E.Butler (mail):
It's too bad that BAR BRI lectures aren't recorded and their references to music tabulated. The winner would have to be the contracts lecturer from the late 70's, early 80's, who linked every concept to a song. The best was "Help me, Rhonda"--obviously an offer to be accepted by performance.
9.18.2006 5:50pm
Ship Erect (mail) (www):
Is it safe to assume that virtually all of the R.E.M. cites are from Losing My Religion? Maybe variants of "it's the end of the... as we know it" as well.
9.18.2006 5:51pm
Silicon Valley Jim:
I wonder if, say, forty years ago, people counted how many times the lyrics of Lorenz Hart, Oscar Hammerstein II, Cole Porter, Ira Gershwin, etc., were cited. I expect that it wasn't as common as citing the lyrics of those mentioned above has been for the past fifteen years ago.
9.18.2006 6:24pm
Richard Gould-Saltman (mail):
Personally, I was just thinking, this wekend, about the under-utilization of Mose Allison, Cousin Joe of New Orleans, and Sonny Boy Williamson II in legal writing.
I'm waiting for the day when I see, e.g.,
"It appears that counsel's mind was on vacation, while his mouth was working overtime. . ." or
"Defendants seem to have gone to the trouble to put a fifty-dollar wig-hat on their collective nickle head. . ."
or, perhaps even
"Movant now seeks to recharacterize his motion for reconsideration as a motion for new trial. He can call it his mama, if he wants, but that doesn't make it so. . .
"
9.18.2006 7:01pm
Cornellian (mail):
I'm impressed by REM's showing partly because their lyrics are normally impenetrable and also because they're a much more recent phenomenon than every other musician on that list with the semi-exception of Springsteen.
9.18.2006 7:12pm
Michael Perlin (mail):
As the guy probably most responsible for the Bobster being in the #1 slot (wrt law review articles), I should point out (to the truly obsessive) my article, "With Great Lawyers You Have Discussed...": References to Bob Dylan in Published Legal Cases, On the Tracks (Spring 1995), at 15. Alas, not only do I have no reprints (for the terminally curious), I can't even find the original...

My recollection is that most of the case cites were to the "weatherman" line of Subterranean Homesick Blues (on the point of law that you don't need an expert witness to point out/belabor the obvious), but there were many others (inlcuding one, criticizing a lawyer for over-agressive discovery filings causing the court much anguish, You've just sort of wasted/my precious time).


Eugene linked to the New Yorker Talk of the Town article from 2002 that talked about my use of BD's lyrics; I expect that is still available on the 'Net for those interested (hardcore BD fans will be excused if they start humming, He was famous long ago...).

My cites to his (Bob's, not Eugene's) lyrics covers most of his career, but the center-of-gravity is probably Idiot Wind, which I think I have borrowed from (always with attribution!) in at least three different articles...
9.18.2006 9:23pm
Realist Liberal (mail):
I know it's not music by my favorite pop culture quote has got to be when Bankruptcy Judge Leif Clark compared the defendant to Billy Madison (one of Adam Sandler's many characters). The order is titled "Order Denying Motion for Incomprehensibility." In a footnote the judge quotes the movie.

Mr. Madison [Sandler's character], what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I've ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response was there anything that could even be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no point, and may God have mercy on your soul.


I wonder if the defendant got it? Probably not, anyone who files a motion titled "Defendant's Motion to Discharge Response to Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Response Opposing Objection to Discharge" probably doesn't do well with sarcasm.
9.19.2006 1:25am
Bleepless (mail):
I am stunned that in these days of liberal and civil libertarian judicial dominance, nobody has quoted The Fugs.
9.19.2006 6:41pm
Tracy Johnson (www):
Does being "The Beatles" of law blogs that also mean that VC is also the "Avis" of legal blogs?

If so, you'll always be Number 2!
9.20.2006 12:23am